Monthly Archives: September 2016

I am still stunned that I miscounted my vacation days. What a fucking first-world problem to have and I am very, very happy to have it. The best thing about this vacation??  You mean my 20th marathon, celebrating 20 years with Chris- taking the EPIC vacation we’ve been planning for years?  What’s the highlight? Foie Gras. No! It’s #MrYummy, #badMrYummy – Chris. We fall in love watching the other explore new places and learn- this trip certainly gave us ample chances to love and learn.

The vacation goals.  Chill. Learn. Disconnect. Eat. Reconnect. Drink. Explore. Grow. Answer. Ask. Play. And then Chill some more.  Mission accomplished. I don’t want it to end, but it is time for the getting on with it to get on with it.  I’m sad, but I am ready.

My take away, break away French phrase?  Et Voila! It’s said everywhere and is as common as the cigarette, the bitchy looking old man, or the fashionable-looking women. Et Voila!  It announces, it pronounces and it delivers.

This morning I went for another run- this time pushing my pace a little and my distance.  Getting through the marathon training and the marathon injury free was such a blessing, so now I have a base. I have had to ramp up to not HATE the first 3-4 miles, and I’m there now. I actually LOVE running again.  So I was in that space with when I rounded a cobble-stoned corner, jump up on a curb and caught a toe.  In a graceful pot-bellied pig kind of way, I stumble dove to the pavement, did a roll a stunt double would envy and rather than crashing into oncoming tourist, I rolled out of the crash (stage left) and popped up to my feet and stuck the landing.

What did I yell gleefully?  Et Voila!  They were shocked, thought I had injured myself (just my pride) and I dashed off to dust myself off around the corner and stop my knee from bleeding.  This is why I need  hover drone and not a selfie fucking stick. I wish I had that on video.

The balance of the day was spent strolling and checking in. I had a little work to do and I researched the neighborhoods a bit, so when Chris and I were headed back from the parks and Louvre, we has a Pastis in the gayborhood and we hunter-gathered for an at-home meal as we packed for departure. Sadly we just HAD to wash it all down with a bottle of sparkling that was less than $30 here, that would go for close to $100 back home.  I hate the French for that.

Other outcomes:

  • Sonoma – we still are going to give that a go.
  • Adoption- looks and feels like a no-go, but we cannot put a period on that yet.
  • No work, business changes. All good there.
  • Next Travel- Chris turns 50 next year, so we celebrate him.
  • The selfie may have grown stale for me, so I’m searching what’s next.
  • We adopt a “Europe Time Out” – where Chris or I can call for a vacation day whenever we feel disconnected and need it- and then we drop what we have scheduled and embrace our life like we are on vacation.

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We can’t wait to see the kitties, sleep in our own bed and get back to a normal diet. Chris is off to New Orleans, so he can pack on the butter and lard for a few extra days. As for me, I’ll just be sticking it out one ant-hill at a time, carrying that chocolate croissant up with me.  Voila!

Uncle Randy Out!

Apparently Sunday is a great vacation day for the two of us. Last Sunday we had an epic day in Provence. The Sunday prior was Bordeaux. Yesterday was a near-perfect day in Paris. This coming Sunday -Emeryville! {sigh} We’ll work it out.

Yesterday (Sunday) I was up early and went down for the 830 Mass at Notre Dame. It is still there and didn’t collapse on me and lightening didn’t strike. I enjoyed the quite time but the Zoo that commenced after (the tourist tours in the church wings) was stunningly offensive to the senses. But I guess if a man is going to dress in a dress and stick a smoking ball and chain, it is worth a selfie picture on a stick. [ No, not me… by my legion of selfie stick friends did this. Yuck, I found myself not liking the selfie stick!]

I took one of the rent-a-bikes here and I was all wrapped up in my scarf, with a bow tie and flashy colors and circled Notre Dame a couple of times looking for Chris.  I’m sure I looked the fag American trying to look French. It was magical -like a wicked-witch-of-the-west magical. Tourists took pictures of me.

Chris and I got to experience the joy of me breaking my phone-we spent 30 minutes in the same plaza not able to find one another.  Such fun! If you are going to Europe, plan to buy an unlocked GSM phone that you like and get a fully functioning SIM card.

Chris and I then explored the Latin district, which charmed us. The Sunday market was the perfect spot to stroll in the rain and to grab a quick breakfast. I am going to miss the petit dejeuner – the perfect combo of coffee (espresso), a croissant, a bit of baguette, butter and jam. I wanted a cigarette just because EVERYONE, EVERYONE, EVERYONE else was doing it. Dear lord the folk in Paris smoke.

Chris found us a great lunch spot for a slow lunch where I was able to use the ceiling on the mirror to take a fun selfie and to check the progression of my horrible dye job. More importantly we checked in about our goals, the vacation and what is next for us. We napped, I did some writing and we started planning our final day in Paris. We live like this back home. It is a bit sweeter rolling our routine in Paris.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the return home- wanting to make sure I don’t slip into my normal post-depression slump. I usually either bury myself back in work to ignore the sadness, or I go to a dark space slump. My dark space is feeling a sense of irrelevance – that the world is so vast and the challenges we face are so big, that I should just lower my head and jump back on the treadmill and stop my bitching. I sometimes feel like a tiny ant in a world full of ant hills. My angst is the fear of not being noticed. That probably surprises nobody. What’s your dark space? 

So rather than that – or in addition to that – I’m committing to embracing the gratitude I gladly owe this life and my partnership with Chris. To manage the depression, I plan to push my way back into doing art, continue my workouts and slow my pace down. Vacation has reminded me of the joy of sleeping in and doing nothing. I will continue the hunt for the perfect Pain O Chocolat! I’ll be the ant with a croissant, si vous plait.

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We’ve seen it all (from the outside)- I’m funding myself a little overwhelmed by the crowds- and this is the beginning of the off season. Apparently hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other people found out that Paris is awesome and are here. Parks, parks, Notre Dame, Louvre, Arc de Triumph, Champs, Crepes, Cafe, Foie, Seine- they have all been a great backdrop to Chris and I exploring this grand city through one another’s eyes. We took another chill AM to read, do laundry, chill some more and plan our day.  I rented a bike and headed out, stroll-rolled past the Arc d Triumph, the pyramid at the Louvre and the Eiffel tower – all while the thoughts of Edith Piaf played a soundtrack in my head.

The shared bike rental thing here is awesome, once you can figure out how to get those fuckers out of the locks. It must be a running local sport- to watch first timers struggle. Chris and I did it. It’s fun.  Beyond that, I took the stereotype so far that I even stopped to get a baguette so it could sit just right in my bike basket, tied off my scarf so it flowed just right and zig-zagged my way around Paris on a bright, cool Saturday AM. And then the Apres Midi hit and the city came out to play, along with a hot blazing sun. I hit a pot hole and my baguette flopped to the ground. When I rescued it I dented it so it was flopping about (it finally broke in half) and it got so hot and crowded (there was a massive music festival to try and bike through) that I sweat through my shirt and I had to use my scarf to wipe up the grease from them my bike chain fell off because of the goddamned cobble stones. Pretty in Paris indeed. If you go out on a bike, go out early or VERY late. And stick to the bike lanes. I do NOT recommend biking down the stairs of one of the ingress spots the the river promenade either as you MIGHT just have to dodge lots of other people.

Reconnecting with Chris was great as he took the AM to recover a bit, so we walked the Marais and helped Paris celebrate it’s parks. Shockingly we found a cafe on a square that allowed for some people watching and cocktail.

Dinner out was at a sweet little spot just around the corner from our flat and I came to the realization that we actually have 23 days of vacation, not 21. Chris had not counted the travel days when planning the trip and I never noticed. What a privileged life! Two extra unplanned (for me days to play) Oh, the selfies I can take!

I failed miserably thus far at the selfie-bomb. To be totally honest, I’m actually growing tired of the selfie. It’s getting old?  What is Selfie 2.0 – I need a hover drone. I’ll hop all over that!

Friday we did a bit more of the hop-on and hop off bus, this time for a night tour.  It’s worth skipping. It has also been so great to hop off the crazy train of US politics a little. Being away from the US has helped me disconnect from our media frenzy.  The only news I am seeing is whatever Facebook decides it should feed me or what I choose to see on the internets.  We’ve not had the TV on in over two weeks!! That’s not to say we’ve completely detached from the presidential race, however, and when the subject has come up, the themes are the same:

  • Can you believe that blatantly sexist thing (insert name here) said about Hillary?
  • How is it that so many people hate Hillary and like Trump but do not actually look at facts?
  • When did facts become optional in a presidential race?
  • The priorities of this election are wrong- we need to be voting for structural change that prioritizes education, healthcare and economic and social justice for all.
  • Why do people HATE Hillary so much and discredit her years and years of civil service?

I get it, she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, being in a country who’s history has been shaped by fanatics and shaped by the push for liberty and justice, I just can stomach the idea that people I know and love will vote for Trump. He is a bully and all the markings of a fascist and the breaking of our democracy. Please have a conversation with me before you do if you are open to it. We’ve seen some evidence of social unrest here too. I get it- people are sick of the way the system is rigged. Trump is not the answer. And I’m voting for her not just because of him, I am voting for her because I am for her.  Unfriend me if you need to.

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Hopping back on the vacation -it’s truly awesome. We’ve had two vacations. France and Paris. Paris is a world onto itself. The timing has not been right for us to get here sooner and now all I can think about is when will we ever get back.

Turns out we have decided to walk off some of the duck fat. We walked 14+ kilometers between stops at cafe’s, gardens and churches. The late-night walk after the night bus tour was frenetic.  Such crazy dense crowds and hectic traffic.  I needed to find a quiet space!

Our tour guide was wonderful and like our cheese-tasting experience in Spain, this woman tried to kill us with pate and cheese.  She learned it was our 20th so she took us to a “lovers’ wall” and took our picture and got the tour group glasses of champagne to toast us. It was very sweet.

Saturday we helped Paris celebrate it’s parks, I rented a bike, ran a bit, Chris got a cold and we had a touch of wine, but more on that tomorrow.

Uncle Foie

Just when I was starting to edge towards home-sickness, our dear Karen Edwards sent us pictures of our kitties and we woke up in Antibes. Yeah, we’ll stay right here. 

No? Ok, how about we go to Paris?  Oui! Sure, but only after a good run along and a swim in the Mediterranean.  This shit gets old.  Like never. No, it never gets old. And on an an addition up note I’ve won the duck battles and am ready to eat another one- starting with the liver. Or a pig. I have an appetite again so I may eat a whole cow or pig in Paris.

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Pinch me, we are off to Paris.  While I have had ample chances to visit Paris in the past, the timing, funding or priorities were just not in place. It feels right to be here now celebrating 20 years with Chris. We met our charming AirB&B host and he gave us a review of the studio and the architectural elements. We are staying in a building where he runs a gallery in a building that is four centuries old, looking out on the interior courtyard.  He explained the original design of these block homes – meaning they take up a whole block – and the growth patterns over the hundreds of years that have created this dense, vibrant and romantic city.  I wish I had brushed up on my French history as much as I google earth-walked the city. So much pretty stuff, so little time. I need a pocket guide or a Drerick Christianshaw sidekick.

After a mind-blowing dinner and wine combo at a little dive around the corner we went for a stroll and saw Notre Dame. It’s a church and it’s pretty. All of that is me being understated.

I am feeling the tug towards home and getting back to work. We have a lot of important and fun, engaging things going on. I’m glad I feel a positive pull for home, but I clearly have some exploring to do, so I’m likely to unplug a bit, sit at a cafe and just read a book.

– yes, lucky, lucky, grateful me!

After a stunning, stunning drive past the winery Chateaux distinct to the region and the wines we’ve been drinking, we landed for an incredible lunch in Cannes.  10 years or so ago I visited this charming nook of the world with a dear friend Jim.  I was his cabin mate on a cruise (which sadly Chris will NEVER do!) – where Jim was the chaplain.  On this excursion into Cannes we splurged and say for a long afternoon with a pile of seafood, a bottle of crisp Rose and a soft breeze.  It was then an experience I had hoped to repeat and now it is an experience I wish for everyone.  Astoux&Brun – http://www.astouxbrun.com apparently one of the best places in Cannes – didn’t fail!

Chris, should we go back in 10 years?

We parked in Antibes just outside the old town, so after a bit of exploring our new neighborhood, moving the car and getting settled in our charming AirB&B (oh, we MAY have also had an apéritif)- I settled into the flat and Chris and I did a couple of hours on the new company, Hitch Video, and chose a cute outdoor-garden cafe / restaurant that we could hear from our balcony.

Yesterday’s #badMrYummy happened on a couple of occasions.  I think Chris is like everyone else- so over the stupid kitty stick he can barely even acknowledge me the moment it comes up or out. I have a dilemma.  The stick arrives and I am dead to him. I was able to use it to capture a sweet moment when a French woman wanted him to take her picture on a moped so she could sent it to her family. It was sweet to see his French skills surpass the necessity of purchasing espresso and croissants. 

I took an impromptu dip in the sea in my underwear, which were much more concealing than the majority of the banana hammocks the middle-aged French men wear. I’m not judging, I’m jealous.  So with that image solidly planted, I’m out!